Also known as: dextrocardia of embryonic arrest, dextrocardia and situs inversus, birth defect of the heart.

What is dextrocardia?

Usually a baby is born with the heart in the left chest. Babies with dextrocardia, have their heart’s on the right side of the chest instead, and frequently have other congenital (before birth) heart abnormalities too (it’s rare - “isolated dextrocardia”- for there to be no other cardiac abnormalities). There is a range of types of dextrocardia; e.g. a normal heart placed further into the right chest than normal (dextrose-position), to where the position of the heart and its major blood vessels are totally reversed from normal, and others. Depending on the form of dextrocardia, the abdominal organs (like the liver) may be positioned on the opposite side of the abdomen from where it is normally found.

What causes dextrocardia?

While the cause is unknown, some cases of dextrocardia appear to be passed down through families.

What are the signs/symptoms of dextrocardia? 

Dextrocardia may cause no symptoms if the heart is normal. Usually, however the skin has a bluish color (cyanosis), there is difficulty breathing, fatigue, pale color, jaundice, recurrent sinus and lung infections and failure to grow.

What are dextrocardia care options?

Depending on the type of dextrocardia and the presence of other problems, a number of medications, and surgery is usually required to correct the various heart abnormalities.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/11/2018 1:29:11 PM

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